Carl Waldekranz Where Local Goes Global index/a/show/article/interview-carl-waldekranz-tictail-where-local-goes-global.html?type=1000&cHash=b4b4adc790ec7259c887ef206a905f61 lifestyle

Carl Waldekranz

Where Local Goes Global

The co-founder of online marketplace, Tictail, talks about his ventures as an internet entrepreneur and gives us his best tips on discovering the vibrant city of Stockholm.

Carl Waldekranz

Where Local Goes Global

Ondrej Navratil

March, 21st 2017

Carl Waldekranz

Where Local Goes Global

Young, passionate and driven, Carl Waldekranz has significant experience with startups. The co-founder of online marketplace, Tictail, talks about his ventures as an internet entrepreneur and gives us his best tips on discovering the vibrant city in Northern Europe - Stockholm.

Ondrej Navratil

Ondrej Navratil

March, 21st 2017

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Carl, you started at the age of 18, what motivated you to start a business at such a young age?

I wish, that I could tell you this amazing story, like a kid genius that had this great ambition, but unfortunately that’s not my case. At the end of the day, in Sweden it is very common, that between high school and university people take like a year off school, they travel to see the world. My closest friend Kaj and I, we thought about it differently. We were always excited about design, creative work, so let’s try to do that for a year. So, we had an office before we had our apartments. And in the beginning, like in every business, we didn’t have any customers, we said that we will produce business cards and we bought like expensive magazines, which should look cool when you come into the office, but no one came to the office, so Kaj and I would sit there and have philosophic discussions. 

After time we started getting some work, but we had also a lot of luck. One day we started talking to this client, it was a really small company, there were 12 people. The start up was about to launch and it was a music streaming service called Spotify. They wanted to get some help to do everything that wasn’t their core product. They wanted help to build the website, do a launch event, a video, so we helped them, of course, and they launched and became a huge success and needed more and more help. As they started growing, our agency also started growing.

Carl Waldekranz

Inside the Tictail HQ in Stockholm

So this was your only client?

No, no there were some other clients. But look, when I tell you this story nowadays, we were a design agency, but the truth is that we weren’t a design agency, we would do whatever the f*** you wanted (laughing). If anyone had money, we would do it. So we worked with a lot of weird sh*t, we worked as an event producer, whatever anyone would need help with. 

That was the beginning of when we started to work with lot of other cool start ups. We started working with big Swedish start ups, big global companies like Nokia in Finland. After a year, where we set the deadline, we said, ‘wait this is too much fun to stop’, so this kept growing. Three years later we sold the agency to a much bigger company and at that point I had to ask myself - do I think I can learn anything better in a school, than what I am learning continuing down this path. Soon later Kaj and I, along with our friends Birk and Siavash, created Tictail.   

"I feel extremely excited about the idea of creating a company that every upcoming fashion brand naturally knows, that this is where I started building my business.„

Carl Waldekranz

Carl Waldekranz grew up in Stockholm, since several years, is he living in New York

What keeps you motivated to continue?

There is positive motivation and negative motivation. And I have both. I feel extremely excited about the idea of creating a company that every upcoming fashion brand naturally knows, that this is where I started building my business. That’s my ambition for Tictail, I think we can get there. And then the negative motivation is fear of failure. I have brought 60 people to this company, I have thousands of brands that use my platform, I have brought on investors from all around the world - in Germany, England, the US, Sweden, I have raised more then $42,000,000 in investor capital. I don’t care much about my financial return, if I become rich from this or not, whatever happens I have this lifestyle, people would employ me whatever happens to this company. But I do care a lot about the promises I gave and I feel like I made a really big promises to our customers, to my team, to our investors. If Tictail doesn’t live up to those promises, I would feel very responsible for that and that’s the fear of failure. On one hand it’s the vision that gets me excited and on the other hand is the fear of not getting there. This comes together as the motivation that keeps you on your toes. 

We are living in the age of “golden start ups.” When you start a company with 5-10 people,  and you begin to grow, there is the possibility of loosing your focus on the core idea and just focusing on the profit. Is the problem of start ups losing their focus?

Well I always say, when you build a company, not just a start up, any company, the only two important buildings blocks that really matter are the team and focus. I think the job of the CEO is to manage these two. Growing in size, bringing on more people, is not the same as losing focus. It’s how you bring on people and how you rally them around one mission that matters. I think it’s very exciting for start ups when they start growing and expanding and they think, ‘we weren’t able to build this much when we were four people, think about how many projects we can do now.’ It’s not about the size of the team, it’s about sort of like realising, that no product is ever done, so you never come to the point you stop thinking about it. You have to always improve it, the core is the most important thing. 

Carl Waldekranz

Tictail is a social marketplace home to independent brands.

How did you come up with the name Tictail?

When we started the company, we knew that we were an e-commerce business. And we looked at all the others like Shopify, BigCommerce and it all felt much like e-commerce, very technical. We thought, ‘We don’t want to become a tech-company, we want to be a company that builds a successful brand. Today, we do that though e-commerce and technology, but tomorrow or a year from now, we might do that by opening our first retail store in New York, or starting to do our first look book this year.’ So we wanted to have a name that didn’t mean anything, but let us expand into whatever we wanted to expand in. We were talking a lot about the concept of a boutique, it’s a world which means a quality and aspiration but still in a tiny small scale. So from boutique we got the “tique” and the other part was just retail. And that’s how we became Tictail, so since then we took this name and never looked back. 

How long did it take to create the name?

 Two days. At that time we weren’t sure if that would be our name, so we took it and if something better came up, we will change. It was not like, ‘Today we will decide to create our name,’ it was a more like a conversation, which kept going. 

Your Tictail profile has over 500 products that you like. How many of them do you really own?

495 (laughing). Everything I own is from Tictail, more or less. Once you start working for this company, you start meeting a lot of brands. You meet artists and designers in their studios and they are mostly outside of the city. I travel a lot and every time I go somewhere I go and meet them. They are all around the world; we have designers in more then 140 countries. They work like 20% to pay the bills but their brand is what their passions is about, their dream. Once you start seeing these stories, you start connecting with these brands. But I know when I wear these products, I am not just wearing a product, I am wearing a story, supporting someone. I go to a lot of stores and online stores but only to learn what they do, but I only shop from Tictail. But it goes from clothes, that I wear to the furniture we have in our apartment. 

Is there a piece you love the most?

I mean all of those 500 products (laughing) I always have like one thing which is the next new thing, something I am really, really excited about. I love a new brand that launched on Tictail, called STIG PERCY, that I am wearing today. I think they are like senior shoes with this thick soul. It feels like something my grandfather would have worn, but in a modern form. I really like that brand. They have really great products coming out. That is my recent discovery.

"I know when I wear these products, I am not just wearing a product, I am wearing a story, supporting someone."

Last year in January you launched the Tictail Market in New York.

Two years ago it started as a pop up store in New York and it was a huge success and we thought ‘Ok, let’s keep this store open.’ In January we opened the doors to a permanent store and we are really excited to see it grow. 

You are also doing events at the store?

Yes we are doing two events every week, we think of it more like a gallery than a store. Hopefully, not this year, not next year, but maybe in 2018 we will start opening more stores. If we can do next year well in this store, then I think we will start opening new stores in other countries as well.

Have you also had other pop up stores?

Yes, in Stockholm, Paris and New York. It was really fun. We are unfortunately a small team. It takes a lot of time to run a store in another country, so we closed two of them and kept the New York store open, because that’s where I am based too. And the office is just one block away. 

Carl Waldekranz

Come say hello to us at Tictail Market at 90 Orchard Street in NYC

You said you are living in New York, but you grew up in Stockholm. What is unique about the city?

I love Stockholm, I think it’s an incredible place. I love the summer in Stockholm, how days never end, I love the people, they have this sense of style, the way they think about the world, I love the nature. When I lived here, my apartment was on an island, outside of the city. I went on the sea before I went to work, then took a bus and a half an hour later I was in the office. I love all those things about Stockholm, but I was born here, I was raised here and I think regardless where you move, it’s good for every person to spend a time in their life away from the city where they grew up. It puts you in a new concept, where you have to create a new routine, new friendships and it forces you to consider who you are. It is something that was personally very important to me to leave no matter where. 

Why did you pick New York?

Most decisions I made, I made because I thought they were right for this company. I would have never moved if I didn’t think it was the right decision for my company. New York is the fastest growing market in the world. Seeing all the brands, all the creativity that lives in the city, all the opportunity that exists there for a company like Tictail, there is no other city that would fit better then New York.  I’ve lived in New York for 2 years and I think it’s safe to say that 20 years from now I will still be living here.

Carl Waldekranz

At Tictail you will find a curated selection of art, fashion, and home design

Is Stockholm the same city you grew up in after all the years when you look back?

Everything changes of course, but at the core it’s the same place. The concept of countries and borders has become more fuzzy, the world is more global, like you run your business in Munich, but you interview people from all around the world and you travel between places. The future of a country isn’t clear for me. The society has become more open, the world has become more open. 

You recommended some locations at Stockholm, one of them was Ett Hem. It’s about feeling at home, very familiar. What do you think about the Swedish culture?

When you travel, you miss the feeling, feeling at home. It is like a universal feeling. when everything is changing around you, you try to hold on to things that aren’t. That’s why it’s so nice to have a partner in life, who shares with you the ups and downs with, to have a decorated apartment or to have a restaurant where the staff recognizes you. You know, when you think about time and you think about something that happened years ago you often attach that to something else. When you look at the world that’s changing you need to attach it to something that wasn’t. At the end of the day, I think that’s why the feeling if home is so important because you want that safe spot, where you don’t feel like you are constantly on the move. 

Carl Waldekranz

Read here our review from Ett Hem in Stockholm 

And the last question, where does Carl Waldekranz feel at home?

I feel at home, at home. Whenever I travel I miss my apartment, my fiancé and my dog. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the entire world, to stay in nice hotels, to do some amazing things, and if I had to choose between that or having a Sunday at home with take away food, on my sofa, with my wife and my dog, then I would pick that over anything else in the world. When I am there, nothing else matter, everything just stops. 

When I look back ten years ago, I could never find hope that I will get to do the things that I am doing today. I thought it would be just a dream to travel all day long and be a completely free person. Your priorities change and this is only natural. I am also a lot more boring and tired than I was back then. Like, I could party every night an entire week when I was young and that was fun. Now I party once and then I am hungover over for three weeks (laughing). 

Team Credits

Photography Felix Augustin Greissinger
Interview Ondrej Navratil
Special Thanks to Carl, Molly and Briana